Tag Archives: work

Fishing Village

IMG_2749The village of Kigombe just down the beach at Peponi is reputed to be the oldest in Tanzania. Regardless of that claim there certainly was a large fillet of ships in the bay and each evening just before sunset  a number of villagers  would make their way down to the beach. Laden end with buckets and other containers carrying lamps or ropes they would wade out into the shallow waters heading for their boats.

They would then spent the night on the waters of the Indian Ocean their lamp lit boats strung like pearls across the horizon. IMG_2306

The following morning they return fish ready to sell or take home for food.


Ten years ago I visited a different Fishing Village on the other side of Africa in The Gambia

Manual Labour

Here in Mwanza, tasks are much more likely to  be done by hand than by machine.

There are no lawnmowers here – machete’s suffice.

Trees are chopped by axe – not a chainsaw in sight.

Cars are washed by hand here no such thing as a car wash.

12 Months Ago Today : Appointment

Little did I realise as I turned up for work 12 months ago that it was going to be a life changing day. The thought of teaching overseas had grown in my mind for several months – rekindling a fire which had burned low for the previous two decades.

The previous months had seen me questioning the way British Education was going and despairing at the decisions of my school to downgrade ICT to an option at GCSE. I needed a change and having spoken with Anita in the New Year and having talked through the option with the children I embarked on a lot of research. The first post which came up was in Thailand – I thought long and hard but felt this was not right for now. I then saw two jobs both in Africa, one in Isamilo (Mwanza, Tanzania) the other in Malawi. Funnily enough it was the Tanzanian job which appealed more (given Anita’s previous experiences in Malawi this was a surprise to both of us). We looked at blogs written by ex-pats living there and did a lot of research. After nearly two weeks of investigation  I made the application to Isamilo in the early days of February (just four days earlier).

Everything was unreal even after the interview – as ever I second guessed myself, convinced I had ‘muffed up’ and ruined my chances. At the same time it was still unreal as no one had actually employed me and I was still safe in England – though increasingly unhappy with education there. Then it all changed…. Continue reading

What’s Changed?

Life here is certainly different as this blog has recounted over the months but I thought that I might summarise the big differences of life as an expat teacher as we approach the end of our 5th Month in Tanzania. Continue reading

A New Routine

We have been here almost four months (I’m not quite sure if it seems longer or shorter. Perhaps both.)

There are eight working day left until the end of term and in many ways our UK life seems a distant memory.

Life has a different pace here both in and out of work. There are frustrations for example things can take a long time to get sorted so you have to plan ahead more. No car means you can’t be as spontaneous and drive off at a whim, you can’t really go out at night on foot at all – the furthest we have walked is 200m to the bar at the bottom of the road. So life is lived in daylight or you grab a lift or you take a taxi.

New routines replace the old ones. I still get up at the same time (6:30am) and leave for work at the same time (7:30am), but a 10 min walk replaces the 50min drive. School starts at 7:55am and there are 7 x 50min lessons each day. The smaller classes (3- 14 students) do mean marking is less onerous and class behaviour means work is more pleasurable. The day finishes at a consistent 3:15pm and is followed by clubs or meetings most nights.

The lighter marking load means I can afford to go out during the week (something I rarely did in the UK).

Monday Evening
Computer club after work.
In the evening Anita and I both go to play Bridge at the Sport’s Club. Here a mix of teachers and other expats along with some Tanzanians play for a few hours.

Tuesday Evening
Alternate Tuesday evenings I meet with fellow Christians (mainly NGO’s) for Bible Study at La Kairo Hotel.

Wednesday Evening
After school meetings.
Early evening I go to the Language School for an hour long lesson.

Thursday Evening
Running club after school.
A second language lesson of the week at Language School followed by Boy’s Night. This is a weekly meal out with male teaching staff at a variety of different Hotels, Bars and Restaurants across Mwanza.

Friday Night
Occasional Friday’s we go for a swim after work, often followed by a drink at someone’s house.

Into town shopping, while children go to rehearsals for the school production. Then the afternoon at home – generally a quiet day. However, every other weekend there is a Youth Group for the children of the various Christian Ex-pats from across the town.

Church in the morning. We have tried out two this Autumn. MICC in the Gold Crest Hotel in the centre of town and NCLC at Isamilo Lodge up the hill. We hope to have settled on one in the New Year – more news then.
Sunday afternoons are quiet and might include a swim or a walk or maybe nothing at all.

These are the new routines and by each one the week passes by. Throw in school work (there is some, honest!), impromptu celebrations and events (both in and out of school) then the weeks fly by. No wonder four months have gone by so quickly.

Charity Fair

Today was the date in the Calendar when the school holds it’s annual Charity Fair in aid of Saturday School. IMG_9472.JPG On Saturday mornings Isamilo opens up it’s facilities on to local children to provide free education, including computing and English as well as swimming. The Charity Fair is open to the whole community and each tutor group runs a stall. Other stalls are run by local artisans or by parents, The visitors pay s modest entry fee and then buy tokens which are used as tickets for the various stalls. Unfortunately, Anita (Malaria) and Bex (UTI and Amoeba infection) were both too poorly to come do it was just Matt and I who went. Matt was helping to run the “Sponge The Teacher” stall, of wich more below.

My tutor group ran a stall whereby people paid for water balloons which were then thrown at members of the group. A hit gave points which led to receiving a bookmark or sweets.

My role was to wander through the event making sure things were OK (which they were). Which gave me a good chance to see all the different activities. Other than this there was the “Sponge The Teacher” stall in which I participated. This was great fun but very wet. A token bought 3 wet sponges aimed at your head which peered through a hole in a board.

The day finished off with a raffle. I had bought a single ticket – Peach 66. I so wish I had got a strip as Peach 65, 67 and 69 all came out of the bucket. Even so it was a great afternoon and the rain held off until after 6 when we’d finished.

Walk to Work

Unlike my previous 50 min drive cross country, these days it’s a 7 minute walk that get’s me to school in the morning. If I’m late out of the door it can turn into a 5 minute run – though I’d rather not!

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No Cable, No Car, No Worries

Almost three weeks in and we’re living without a car and without a cable TV.

To be honest we’re not missing either Continue reading

Life Lived In Phases

T Minus 5

As we leave Lincoln I reflect that as awesome as the change we are about to make is; it is after all just another move, something I have done several times before.

I was not born here, but moved to Lincoln just before my 7th Birthday. At the time it was probably the most traumatic change, uprooting and moving half way across the country, settling into a new school, half way through the year, with a South East accent ‘Up North’. Nonetheless Lincoln became my home and though I lived here for less than 12 years I feel it is my home from home; partly due to the fact mum still lives in the house.
When I left Lincoln, it was for University and I didn’t move far. Nottingham became my home for the next phase. Another major upheaval as I was suddenly confronted by hundreds of people I didn’t know in a Hall of Residence. You make friends quickly in such circumstances! Nottingham in various rooms and flats and houses was my home for 4 years.
Leaving Nottingham to get a job brought me unknowingly to Milton Keynes, my home for almost 26 years. In that time I have rented and owned property; been single, in a relationship, engaged, married and had kids; worked in four different schools; attended two churches (one of those for virtually all of the 26 years!). As we speak Milton Keynes is the place we call home more than anywhere (Anita lived here a year longer than I although she lived in Canada, Jamaica and Malaŵi for 27 months).
Although this is a phase it has probably been several phases in reality, demarked by changes of job and circumstance.
I think that the longer your in a phase the more dramatic the change is when
it comes. We lived in the same house for 17 years, I have been in one job for 11 years and so the last 11 years has been a phase in itself. Getting up at 6:15am, out by 7:15am and on the road for the 50 min journey for start of work by 8:30am. Returning back home from between 4:00pm and 6:00 pm (7:30pm on Parent’s Evenings). Badminton for me on a Monday; Woburn Sands Band for the others Tuesday to Friday; Saturday Park Run and the Weekly Shop; Sunday Church at 11am. Life has been routine!
Currently we are between homes and have been touring the country, but this short phase is coming to a close and the next phase is about to begin!
Change is happening, more do than ever before but change has preceded it and in the end the new will become the new routine, a house will become home and a new life will ensue.

One Way Trip?

T Minus 16

This blog is inspired by a recent conversation.

Some people have wondered whether we will come back? Some people have questioned whether we will be able to? Some have said that coming back will be harder than leaving.

Have we burnt our bridges?
Are we embarking on a one way trip?

One Way Trip
In response to the last question first – it is not a one way trip in that there are flights at the end of contract. Whether that is two years (the term of the initial contract) or more (should we extend) is to be determined but we will return at some point to visit if nothing else.

Will we return for visits in between?
This is a little uncertain in the first two years; as much as due to the fact that we want to explore our new home a little (see East Africa Bucket List), also because we want to make a go of this venture. There are tentative plans for my mum to come out in and around my 50th in Jan 2016. However, we probably won’t come back before Summer 2016.

Beyond that we would hope to return periodically, should we stay on longer. My new colleagues seem to be able to do so every one to two years so it seems feasible. Although to begin with we will be 4 then 3 , so cost will be steeper, it will be possible to save, as our outgoings will be relatively low.
Of course all these thoughts lie in the future. We will know more when we are out there.
In an ideal world and with agreement we would want to be out at least 5 years to allow my youngest to complete her education. Beyond that, who knows? In a sense the “world will be our oyster” and other International Schools might be an option, or staying put in Mwanza or returning to the UK.

Returning to the UK
We have sold, and consequently exited the housing market, as such we are burning bridges. However, if I returned to the UK, it would be with a job, I am certain. We are not afraid of renting in the first instance and we would be looking to downsize. Again this is all for the future.

Plans and Purposes
As Christians we believe God is in this. We believe that He has opened doors, smoothed paths and solved the seemingly impossible. So in this vein we also believe that the future will work out in the right way. A year ago I was wandering around Phnom Penh in the rain. I could never have imagined the year that would lie ahead. We are taking this first step in faith – who knows where it will lead?

Thick and Fast Lasts

T Minus 35

As we enter the last 5 weeks in the UK the lasts come thick and fast.

  • Today was Anita’s last day at work and Bekah’s last day at school.
  • Tonight is Anita’s last Band Practice for Woburn Sands Brass Band.
  • Tomorrow is Bekah’s last Band Concert
  • Matt and Bekah both did their last paper round today.
  • This is our last weekend in MK
  • Sunday is our last Church Service at St Mary’s.
  • Tuesday is my last day at work

After what has seemed ages – suddenly we are approaching the end. Life is unravelling before us – as it must before we leave but it is a little disconcerting! 20140718-221851-80331620.jpg

the garden outside Anita’s office at the Open University.

Me At My Best = My Best Team

T Minus 37

Last night was my last Faculty Meeting. I have headed up the ICT Faculty for one term short of 6 years, just over half of my time at Lord Williams’s.

It was a strange experience reflecting on the year and proposing actions for the year ahead of which I will have no part.

The ICT faculty is composed of 5 teachers, all specialist. My predecessor used the phrase “small but perfectly formed” which was very apt.

Following last week’s Legoland trip one colleague bought us all a key ring – this is a Lego representation of the ICT Team.

As teachers we spend the vast majority of our days apart, each with our own class of 28 -30 teens. This separateness is compounded by the split site and the fact that most are part-timers. However, it’s a strong team and generally we get on well and support each other. There can be friction at times, even so the key thing is working collectively.

I have always referred to them as Team. Fundamentally because I believe when we are all pulling in the same direction we can achieve more as a group than as individuals. I am the leader of the Team and this means making tough decisions at times, sometimes unpopular decisions, nonetheless everyone has a voice and (I hope) the team feel listened to even when they might not agree.

Thinking about this recently, I suddenly became aware of the fact that a rearrangement of the phrase “My Best Team” becomes “Me At My Best”.

I really believe that my team has been the best and I have been better by being part of the team. As I leave my team in under a week, I leave it in good hands. However, I will miss them.20140715-231359-83639693.jpgMy team (seated) at my leaving do – Punting on the Cherwell River.

That tingly feeling!

T Minus 39

It’s the last complete week at work for me and the last week at work/ school for the others ( I unfortunately have 2 days next week too). As I approach the terminus of my time at Lord Williams’s I am beginning to get that tingly feeling; that nervous anticipation associated with a big event. I guess it’s the fact that from tomorrow I shall start seeing my classes and carrying out routines for the very last time. My office is now virtually clear, barring a few files pertinent for now and some things to be passed on. 20140714-201712-73032802.jpg


This time next week there will just be one morning to go and a leaving speech to give, after 11 years.
In other aspects of we will have said goodbye to St Mary’s, my church of 26 years and other friends locally at an Open House. Change is coming and it’s coming fast!

Taking a Punt

T minus 48

So the day has come for my “leaving do”. Here in Oxford with my ICT team. We’re here to punt along the Cherwell river. As I sit here it’s still raining but the forecast is good.20140705-115500-42900041.jpg

So today I get to cross one item of my well planned bucket list of things to do before I leave the UK 🙂

Four hours later a great time with some great colleagues. Punting was great fun a lot harder than you might think but still great. The weather turned out really nice, rain giving way to blue skies and sunshine (the best way). A pub lunch half way to boot!












Feeling Fatigued

T Minus 57

Time is ticking on. In seems that time is running out fast. There is still much to do and life remains busy for the foreseeable future.
We are now beginning the final stretch – we still hope to be able to move out of the house in early August so we need to start giving our  30 day notices very soon.However, the solicitors still seem painfully slow. When will we ever complete?

At work along with clearing out my office I am also engaged in timetabling as well as some forward planning along with my successors. On top of this I have Year 10 Mocks to mark. It’s all go!

The continual activity has been wearing and both Anita and I are feeling somewhat drained, tired. It’s been great having Mum down for the week helping us out with some of the “run of the mill” chores.
Sorting is still a big part of what we are doing although now it is more about dumping and storing than selling.

However, tonight we need to do a big clear up ahead of this weekend’s birthday celebrations with family. Looking forward to that!


T Minus 59

Today is my son’s last day at school in the UK. This week is his birthday. The last of our family’s birthdays on UK soil.

Today was my last Heads of Faculty meeting. Today also was the last test I will set as Year 10 took their mocks. There are 4 weeks exactly from today until the end of term.

I realise I am watching my last UK Wimbledon – not sure how much coverage of the Tennis Championships there will be in Tanzania.

Endings are coming thick and fast now as we move into the final stretch. Looking forward to some beginnings though they must wait for The move abroad.

No Rest For The ……Emigrants

T minus 60

As we move within two months of departure we are both feeling thoroughly exhausted. Life goes on as normal (both of us still at work, today I’m dropping the car off for a service, hence a slightly later start) and yet at the same we are planning our escape from the UK ;-). The house and garage whilst gradually emptying are still remarkably full. 20140623-074050-27650461.jpgA lot now is going to the dump.

20140623-074013-27613354.jpg. We have boxes of stuff for the charity shops.
Now we are factoring in goodbye events at work, church and locally. We’re looking forward to these but they are taking up time. We also have a birthday celebration for my son (this week) and an early birthday / goodbye for my daughter to organise. It’s all go! Luckily my mum is down for the week so it’s great to have some help. I could just do with a duvet day – I can’t remember the last time I had a “Do Nothing Day“.

Oh well better get off to the garage – time waits for no man.


20140623-075029-28229282.jpg Last night’s Barbecue – a short respite!


No Ties

T Minus 64

When I leave the UK there will be no more ties

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Timetable Time!

T Minus 72

Today I have been starting the process of timetabling the ICT Faculty for next year. Having received the basic structure of what needs to be taught when, my role is to allocate staff.
It’s a bit of a puzzle to solve. Some colleagues are part time others teach in other faculties. Classes in different year groups run concurrently and where possible I like to keep continuity for colleagues and pupils alike. I also like colleagues to have their own room- in ICT that is important as our rooms are used by other faculties too. As we are a split site it also makes it easier to have a base on each site.

I always enjoy the challenge of working it all out. As sad as it sounds I get pleasure from the process. It is something I have done ever since the old days as a science teacher, long before I moved into ICT and became a HoF.

Today was stage one and only involved Sixth Form and GCSE Classes, but draft 1 is done. I know it will probably change before long as other factors impose themselves, but these are puzzles to overcome and compromises to make.

This year though I am slightly detached from the process. I, of course will never teach these classes or work within this timetable. Somewhere else in Tanzania, another timetable is being written and classes allocated. It’s a bit weird but exciting also.

I really like receiving my new timetable (even when I have planned it) the hopes and expectations of a new school year.

Unknown names which will soon become faces and personalities. Some challenging, some not, hard workers and slackers; naughty and well behaved; loud and quiet. Even known names can change (for better or worse!) Teaching in itself does not change year on year but the clientele do. I wonder what timetable awaits and what characters lie behind the names to come?

Another Week Down!

T Minus 77
The weeks are flying by at a pace and with 11 weeks to go it’s beginning to feel like we’re never going to get it all done. Though remembering back to one of Anita’s early posts – you eat an elephant one bite at a time.

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